Fully accessible venues can still be difficult to find. Getting in the door and having an accessible toilet is only the start. Venue owners and managers, caterers and equipment suppliers are yet to get up to speed with what is required. Indeed, while trying to think of everything to make the 2014 Universal Design Conference inclusive, we found the suppliers of the staging equipment did not have a handrail for the steps and the wheelchair ramp was too steep to climb without help. The one-size fits all lectern is also a problem. Rarely is there a lectern that a seated person or person of short stature can use.
Meetings and Events Australia have a comprehensive handbookon accessible events which was written in consultation with the Human Rights Commission in 2012. The Guide also has a checklist at the end.
Factors that many organisers might not think about are, a drinking bowl for an assistance dog, the way the event or meeting is promoted, and ensuring there is lighting on the face of speakers for lip readers.
Editor’s Note: In my experience, some event operators aren’t aware that they have to meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.
Sporting activities can be both enjoyable and healthy. Consequently, introducing young people to sport and keeping them involved can have long term positive effects. However, young people with disability are involved to a lesser extent. While there are some specialised programs for children and young people, this may not be the way of the future. Susanna Geidne and Kajsa Jerlinder tackle this issue in the latest Sport Science Review journal. After a systematic search of peer-reviewed articles, they conclude,
“We must go from adapting physical activity for disabled persons to adapting physical activity for all people, because the diversity of people’s reasons for doing sports, their differing backgrounds and their uniqueness all demand it. Such an approach will result in more people doing sports for longer in life, which will benefit everyone, both individually and at the societal level.”
Professor Simon Darcy has co-authored a paper on the barriers to participation in sport. While the article is somewhat technical with statistical analyses, the methodology is a valuable model for researching the barriers encountered by people with disability in other contexts. Needless to say, the barriers were found to be complex, but where physical access is available, the efforts must now go to the customer service and membership side of sport.
The Victorian Department of Sport and Recreation has produced an informative six minute video presented by an architect. It presents the case for universal design in the built environment and showcases what has been achieved by thinking and designing universally.This video is a good reference for explaining universal design to the uninitiated making the point that you don’t have to be a specialist designer to think and design inclusively.
The website also includes a link to their guide: Design for Everyone: A Guide To Sport And Recreation Settings. The webpage makes the distinction between accessibility and universal design. “It is separate from accessible design as Universal Design is based on the equitable use of a facility and social inclusion and not the measurement of accessible design features and meeting minimum legislative requirements.”
Tree Tops Crazy Rider offers fun for all ages and abilities. The video link shows people having fun. The ride, which is located on the Central Coast, is accessible inasmuch as it can be in a natural environment. The information below the video link provides details on how people with disability can participate. The main website provides the general details including costs and opening times. Go to the Crazy Rider section and scroll down for the information about the accessible ride available on the Central Coast.
The site states, “The Crazy Riders are accessible to people with a wide range of physical, sensory and mental abilities, including people who use wheelchairs. Our professional team members provide expert assistance with equipment and safety requirements. Should you have any questions prior to booking or your visit, please email or phone us”.
There is no legislation within Australia to guide the design of sporting or leisure activities that enable participation by everyone at a level that suits them. Universal Design: Integrating the Principles into Camp Activities outlines the importance of universal design and ways in which environments, activities and programs within residential camps can be used by everyone. It shows how to apply the seven principles of universal design to all aspects of camp activities. Sport and Recreation Victoria and YMCA have made this report available to increase awareness and applicability of universal design in residential camps. The image shows how anyone can enjoy the flying fox on the “Skyrider”.
What are the best practice methods for consulting with users to implement universal design?
This literature review captured articles about projects that attempted to achieve universal design or user-centred design by consulting with users throughout the design process. The studies were predominantly qualitative case studies, in which a variety of different methods were used. These techniques included the full participation of users in the design process, the use of hidden cameras, observation, focus groups, scaled cardboard models and 3-D virtual environments. Some important considerations for consulting with users are raised in the literature.
Evan Wilkinson outlines the process that Sport and Recreation Victoria went through to bring about a better understanding of the principles of universal design and how they can be applied to sporting infrastructure and recreational programs. One of his key arguments is that if universal design principles are considered at the outset, the cost implications are low. However, if left until later in the design and construction process, the cost of ‘adding on’ access features is far more costly. Download the PDF of the PowerPoint Slideshow. (5.5 MB)
Sport and Recreation Victoria have also launched their Design for Everyone Guide. The link takes you to the website that also has a very useful video on universal design shown below.
This excellent video shows how the application of universal design principles throughout the design of the camp facilities and camp activities, including staff attitudes, can bring about the inclusiveness that is the aim of universal design. The camp is run by YMCA on behalf of Sport and Recreation Victoria.